Across the years Ashbrooke Sports Ground has seen massive crowds for events – some sporting and some non-sporting. The record stands at well over 20,000 for the visit of Australian cricketers during the Miners’ Strike of 1926. Crowds of 6,000 plus were not uncommon for the annual Police Sports in the years after the Second World War and, in more recent times, for the ‘Bonfire Night’ Fireworks. England Trials and County matches saw big crowds for rugby. However one of the most interesting events in terms of spectators happened on the very eve of the Second World War and the Ashbrooke Archive has a thick file recording it in detail.
The event in question was a display of horsemanship by a group of Cossacks. The date was 12 July 1939 and there were two performances – one in the afternoon and another in the evening. Tickets were sold at 6d (2 ½ p) for child standing to 3/- (15p) for a seated adult. The Echo published a couple of photographs and declared there to have been a ‘large crowd’ for the ‘daring display’ despite the rain.
The file in the club archive has a host of photographs and documents which were sent before the show as well as letters and advertisements for the show itself. An article by me on the Cossack visit is set to appear shortly in one of the monthly magazines sent out to members of the local antiquarians.
For more on the 1926 match and crowd see below for the blog entered on September 25 2019.
One of a number of photographs of the Cossacks in action - from the Ashbrooke Archive.